More Curry and a Sad Day For Football

Posted on November 27, 2011

I had my second curry night in just over a week on Saturday night, this time rather than Brick Lane in the heart of London, it was off to the Punjabi in Stockbridge High Street in the heart of the Test Valley in Hampshire. Last week I was with my oldest group of friends, this week it was the newer bunch from Broughton. The locations may have been remarkably diverse, but the conversations taking place mirrored each other in a way that suggests the male of the species is a creature of strange habits, and when he enters a curry house with other males, his cortex area of the brain that controls logical thinking and general good behaviour becomes dulled by the heavy scent of spices and Kingfisher lager. This leads raucous laughing similar to that of a medieval banquet and the victimisation of at least one member of the tribe. This week it was the turn of Pete Beckley to be subjected to merciless piss taking, from arrival to departure.

Peter you see, had decided that he would join in the spirit of Mo-vember sponsorship that is rapidly gaining popularity because of its support of male cancer charities. The idea is that men gain sponsorship by spending the whole of November growing a moustache, often with hilarious consequences. I really wish I had done it as it would certainly have brightened up a month that I have recently named as my least favourite of the calendar year. My friend John (Newton) has done it, and though he looks a bit of twat, he will never surpass his attempt of a decade ago when he grew a William Shakespeare beard and tash that looked on his passport if it had been drawn on by a small child. When he opened his passport at Sofia airport a couple of years ago, he provided me a moment which will forever be entrenched in my top ten laughing fits of all time, a genuine moment of pure comedy gold.

Beckley-A cross between a porn star, a scouser and Tony Lydeard

Pete, however, was so special because no one could quite grasp what or who he looked like. Of course this made for great puerile entertainment and it was finally decided that he was the combination of a stereotypical scouser, a German porn star and Tony Lydeard. For those of you who don’t know Tony, he is, at 63, roughly 10 years Pete’s senior and he carries a moustache for the whole of the year. Of course, this was not the only conversation of an evening that featured plenty of other utter nonsense, much to the bemusement and mild disdain of the other customers arriving at the restaurant. Quite who would risk taking their wife, or even worse, a first date, out for a curry on a Saturday night I really don’t know, it is a gamble riddled with danger, not in a violent way, but in a way that has the woman frowning at her partner and quizzing him if that is the way he behaves when he goes out with his mates. Despite his pathetic denials, he knows that any hopes of a bit of Saturday night rumpy pumpy are diminishing by the second. A curry house date on a Saturday is a naive decision and it has to be said that one gets what one deserves, men should know better.

When I arrived back home yesterday, my eldest son informed me that Wales manager Gary Speed had hung himself, immediately putting a dampener on my Sunday afternoon. I watched Football Focus on Saturday lunch time and Speed was on the show being his normal charming and articulate self, a rare breed who was respected by everyone I know who is a follower of football. Speed was in my age group of footballers, and whilst he was winning the league title with Leeds in 1992, I was playing for Sporting Baughurst, he was a player many lads of my age wanted to be like, committed, with a ferocious left foot, brilliant in the air and complete with dashing looks that had the girls of our age group salivating. Us mere mortals had every reason to be jealous of him, yet, because he came across as just a normal bloke, no one was jealous at all, he was the footballer we would have loved to have been, captaining every side he played for.

Speed: The man who appeared to have it all

As the bright young manager of  the fast emerging Wales team and his financial future secure, what made Speed kill himself is anyones guess……did something happen between Saturday afternoon and early Sunday morning to drive him over the edge? All the staff at the BBC who were in contact with him on Saturday afternoon said that there was absolutely no inclination that he may have been in an unstable state of mind. Having never played sport at a high level, I don’t know what it is like to stop playing in front of huge crowds under intense pressure, but it is often said that sportsmen find it hard to deal with the adjustment in to life without testosterone fuelled combat. Speed played professional football at the highest level for twenty years, was it perhaps that the adrenalin of managing his country was not enough of a fix to replace the high of driving a football in to the back of a net in front of fifty thousand fans? I used to get a thrill out scoring in front of eight people and a couple of dog walkers, so it must be a moment of unrivalled ecstasy to do so at the packed stadiums of Elland Road, St James Park or the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Maybe losing that thrill is just too hard for some individuals to take, knowing that they will never be able to replicate the experience ever again.

If that is the case, how tragic is that?

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